IBM ThinkPad R50 Battery Trouble

by on December 11, 2007

Q: I have turned on my IBM ThinkPad R50 after many months of no use. The battery isn’t charging anymore – the symbol keeps flashing. After hours of the laptop being on a new message has come up with full solid bar saying battery condition unknown. The battery icon says ‘on-line, critical’. The battery is the one that came with the laptop. It was fine before – last used one year ago.

A: Hello there! I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your laptop battery. Luckily, your battery may be part of a major battery recall that IBM issued during the spring. (IBM ThinkPad R50s are part of the recall.) Visit this page on the IBM site to enter information about your laptop to see if it is part of the recall. You will need your battery’s barcode number to use the site. To find this number, remove your battery from your laptop. You should see a long number made up of alphanumeric characters; this is your battery’s barcode number.

On the page linked above, enter your battery barcode number in the Battery barcode validation box. Once you have done this click the Continue button. The webpage will let you know whether or not your battery is part of the recall. If it is, then good news! Simply follow the instructions on the page to return your faulty battery and receive a new one.

If your battery is not part of the recall, here are a few things you can try to bring it back to life. The first thing I would try (and this may not work with your laptop behaving the way you describe) is calibrating the battery. This process should, ideally, be performed the first time you use your laptop. Since we cannot do this, we are going to give it ago anyway. To calibrate your battery (and again, this may not work with your laptop behaving as you describe):

  1. Plug in your laptop to an AC outlet and let it charge until it is at 100%.
  2. Unplug your laptop and work away until the battery is completely drained, and the computer shuts down (save your work when the low battery warning comes on).
  3. Repeat this process (completely charging/completely depleting) three times.
  4. If the process is successful, your battery should work splendidly again.

If calibration does not work, here is a trick that many people swear by. Remove your battery from your laptop, and pop it into the freezer (yes, the one with the frozen broccoli and TV dinners) for a couple of days. Once the battery is wholly frozen, remove it and let it defrost for a few hours. Insert it into your laptop (with your fingers crossed) and hope that it works again.

If your battery is not subject to the recall, and will not come back to life using either of the tips described above, then you will have to get a new battery. Luckily, the price isn’t too bad; I found the price to be anywhere from $50 to $100 on various hardware sites and eBay.

I hope that this information helps! Good luck with your battery!

One Response to “IBM ThinkPad R50 Battery Trouble”

    Maybe the battery is dead,here are some extend laptop battery life ways:

    1. If you do not use your laptop for extended periods of time (a week or more), remove the battery pack from the laptop.

    2. Do not expose the battery to high heat or freezing temperatures. Do not leave your battery in your car in the summer. Hot batteries discharge very quickly, and cold ones can’t create as much power.

    3. Make sure to plug your laptop charger adapter into a UPS and not directly into a power outlet or surge protector.

    4. If you have a nickel-metal hydride battery, completely drain and recharge the battery once a month to maximize its capacity to hold a charge.

    5. Fully charge new battery packs before use. New pack needs to be fully charged and discharged (cycled) a few times before it can condition to full capacity.

    6. For laptops that work as Desktop Replacement, the battery should be re-installed every 3-4 weeks and allowed to fully discharge.

    7. Leaving a battery in a laptop while using an electrical outlet for long periods of time will keep the battery in a constant state of charging up and that will reduce the life cycle of the battery.